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Covello & Covello Historical Photo Collection

Real Snow Downtown: This was back in 1957. It's the corner of Cooper and Pacific. That would be O'Neill's and the new Cooper House on left, and Wherehouse and Cinema 9 on the right. Of course, once again, we see the Town Clock in its original location, high atop the Odd Fellows building. Where have all the Odd Fellows gone, you wonder? Don't ask.

Bruce Bratton

NO HOME FOR DEPOT. The growing numbers of concerned folk who are opposed to Home Depot opening at 41st and Soquel are really getting organized. They have created the following groups, and if you care about keeping Home Depot out of here, you can join any of them. There are groups about traffic, Soquel Creek/hazardous materials, economic/business impacts, noise/light Impacts, schools/safety and one involving their website. Most communication is being done by email. So contact any or all of the above at jbrager@hotmail.com. That's Jennifer Brager; she'll be contacting you and will be organizing separate meetings plus a general meeting after the Home depot permit application is filed. Jennifer will also tell you about the good stuff that happened at the Dec. 5 meeting.

OPERA NEWS IN GENERAL. The 2000-2001 season of the Metropolitan Opera live broadcasts got underway last week with Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier and continues through April 21 at 10:30am Saturday mornings on Barbara Smythe's Opera Show on KAZU-FM (90.3). Saturday (Dec. 16), they're doing Richard Wagner's Flying Dutchman. But what grabbed me was that before the opera starts on Saturday morning, there will be a discussion of Wagner titled "Wagner: The Closet Feminist." Wagner's been called many things before--and he probably always will be called many things--but "a closet feminist" does require some deep thinking. The Met's 20-opera season includes such unusual gems as Beethoven's only opera, Fidelio, Wagner's Parsival, Strauss' Ariadne Auf Naxos and Alban Berg's Lulu. Speaking of opera, I mentioned that our new mayor, Tim Fitzmaurice, wrote an opera. Well, I should have said he wrote the libretto (words) with UCSC graduate student Aaron Seeman, who wrote the music, while Tim was a lecturer in English at Cowell College. According to Craig Hall O'Donnell, who emailed me about all this, the opera is titled Opium: The Diary of a Cure and is a historical fiction based on Jean Cocteau's stay in an opium hospital in a coma caused by withdrawal. I missed it, damn.

BOOKS FOR THE HOLIDAYS. I haven't seen anything locally, but The New York Times has had some articles on how Amazon.com has thousands of workers who claim that Amazon is anti-union. In case you care about the problems that book employees have at Amazon, you can find out at www.booksense.com. Booksense is the Internet link to hundreds of independent bookstores across the United States. Booksense is also doing a sweepstakes with a bunch of prizes, and besides their prices and unique book service, Booksense goes a long way in battling mega-giant operations like Amazon.

DARK PLEASURES. 102 Dalmatians is good fun. Glenn Close is among the very few actors who could pull off as great a job as she does with Cruella De Vil. Gerard Depardieu doesn't work out quite as funny as he needed to be, but see it anyway. Don't see Vertical Limit under any circumstances. Chris O'Donnell and Ben Affleck are probably secret graduates of the Keanu Reeves school of acting, which seems to have a growing group of alumni. The snow effects look like bed sheets and plastic foam pellets, the plot and cliff-hanging sequences made the audience laugh--and me groan when I saw it. Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe do about as good as possible with a script from hell in Proof of Life. Don't see that one either, save your admission money and donate it to a worthy holiday cause. Now after saying all that, the National Board of Movieness or Board of National Critics or some such group gave Quills its best film of the year award--and just go see it. Geoffrey Rush, Kate Winslet, Joaquin Phoenix and Michael Caine are perfectly cast--and besides that, it's about the Marquis de Sade, so how can it miss? Republicans and people who voted for district elections wouldn't like it, but it should win every award available.

UCSC EXTENSION. There's no denying that UCSC Extension has extended itself so much over the hill that it could change its name and nobody would notice. However, there are a few (few) classes in Santa Cruz that should be considered. Master metalsmith E.A. Chase is having an evening viewing of his works (he did the Collateral Damage statue at the Town Clock) on March 20. Jane Gregorius is doing a monotype workshop for beginners and accomplished screen printers March 25-25. Monotypes are a type of painting and printing that needs to be seen to be understood. Go for it. Harrod Blank is doing an evening of "Art Cars and Wild Wheels" on Feb. 6 at the Museum of Art and History (enrollment limited). Jody Alexander is teaching Non-Adhesive Bookbinding 6, Thursday evenings, March 1-April 5, at the Extension classrooms, 11101 Pacific Ave. You can enroll online at www.ucsc-extension.edu--I am.

OLIVE OIL OMISSIONS. In relating my olive oil experience last week the definition of "extra virgin," which appears on some labels, got left out. It does not refer to an increase in staffing at the olive oil factory, it only means that the particular olive oil has less than 1 percent acidity. Below 1/2 percent acidity is extra extra virgin! The big deal in olive oil is how quickly the olives are processed after picking. Some like Tehama Gold (which I mentioned last week) are processed within 36 hours. The more common and cheaper oils come from mixes of olives and oils that have been shipped and stored for awfully long periods of time. I've been checking in with the California Olive Oil Council at www.cooc.com about the health benefits of olive oil, and there's too much to tell you here. Then I looked up www.oliveoilsource.com and learned even more about lowering bad cholesterol, reducing the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer and things like that. (Full disclosure--no, I didn't get any rent reduction on that cabin from Tehama Gold Olive Oil. They didn't know I wrote this stuff, and I didn't know they made olive oil).

EYE CANDY. I think it's supposed to be a secret, but UCSC has been developing its film department. There's much new energy up there. I've asked Eli Hollander many times for news about it: nothing. I've heard many mentions about new courses, new staff additions, increased student enrollment--but again nothing more than rumors. Now there's a publication out called Eyecandy; maybe it's not new, but it doesn't list a phone number and doesn't say if it's monthly, weekly or annually. Anyway, it describes itself as being "For Film Freaks by Film Freaks." I got my copy at the Nickelodeon. I don't know where else you can find it, but it does have some fine film articles. The fall issue thanks the Film and Digital Media Department and the Media Council, whatever they are--it would be nice to share with us townies. I was also told that there'll be screenings of Satyajit Ray films in February because UCSC has one of the world's largest collections of his cinema masterpieces. I hope we'll hear about that too, someday. There is an email address for Eyecandy: it's eyecandy.ucsc.edu.

IN CLOSING. If I get it together, I'm going to include some or many of what I consider to be the finest performing arts and film experiences of the past year. I've got to start with The Odissi Classical Dance troupe presented by Kathy Foley at Porter College just two weeks ago. Not only was the evening completely stunning, but the closing dance of salvation based on a Sanskrit peace prayer transfixed the entire audience. To be present when such an experience is communicated and shared is a remarkable moment. I wish you had been there because it's truly amazing and rare.


Bruce critiques films every other Thursday on KUSP-FM (88.9) at 12:50pm. Reach Bruce at bratton@cruzio.com or call 457.5814, ext 400.

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From the December 13-20, 2000 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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